Bottled meat is one of my favorite ways to preserve game meat. You can also bottle non-game meats like beef, pork, chicken, and even fish. It takes a long time to make it (mostly processing time in the canner), but when you need to use it, it is already cooked and ready to throw in your casserole, soup, sandwich, etc. Bottled meat is shelf stable and has a shelf life of 5-7 years (totally based on my own experience, not out of a canning guide, so your mileage may vary).
Step 1: Cut your meat up in cubes about 1-1 1/2 inches across. If the pieces are too small they kind of disintegrate and turn to little meat particles in the bottle. Too large and I don’t know what would happen, but they wouldn’t be as easy to eat when they come out of the bottle. There is a lot of give here–the chunks don’t have to be cubes, they don’t have to be 1 1/2 inches, pretty much any piece you want will do fine.
Cut off as much fat and tendon as you desire. The pieces do NOT have to be cleared of all fat, tendon, hard outer meat, etc. All that will soften up in the processing. Get the big chunks of tendon/fat out, but don’t go crazy.
Step 2: Put about 1 1/2-2 inches of water in the bottom of your PRESSURE canner with the rack in and turn the burner on med/high to heat it up. You cannot use a water bath canner, meat needs to be pressure canned.
Also put some water on to boil in another pot. AND put your jar lids in a little pot of water and heat them up (no picture, but this is important–if you don’t heat your lids you’ll get a lot of bottles that lose liquid in the processing and subsequently won’t be able to store as long).
Step 3: Put the meat in clean pint jars. Fill them about to the neck. Half pints or quarts would probably work also, I’ve just never used them. You get about a pound of meat in a pint, so a pint o’ meat is about the right size for most things I use it for.
Step 4: Put 1/2 teaspoon canning salt in each pint.
Step 5: Pour boiling water in the jars over the meat and salt and free the air bubbles with your bubble freer (or butter knife). Slide the knife down the edges of the jar in at least 4 locations and use it to push the meat a little–don’t skip this step, lots of air gets trapped in these jars. Repeat until the water is to the neck of the jar.
Step 6: Screw the lids and rings on the jars and put them in the canner. Put the lid on the canner and the rocker on the steam pipe and heat to pressure. Process for 55 minutes (yep, that’s about an hour) AT 12 lbs pressure. Now, AT pressure just means it needs to be at least 12 lbs pressure for at least 55 minutes. A little fluctuation in the pressure is okay, but if your rocker is going crazy you need to get it cooled down as quick as you can. Don’t plan on going anywhere during processing–you’ll need to be nearby to turn the heat up and/or down to regulate the pressure.
You might notice a couple of my lids are already marked–they are lids I used on freezer jam so they were never sealed and can be used again to seal a jar of something else (meat in this case). Once a lid has sealed, it can’t be used again to seal another jar.
After the 55 minutes of pressure cooking, turn the heat off and let the canner cool down. When it’s safe to open you can open it and take the jars out to cool. If you do your meat right before bed, you can go to bed as soon as the 55 minutes are done and the heat is off and just open it and get your jars out in the morning . . .
(We have serious hard water here, so my jars always look like they’ve got some film on them after bottling meat–you can remedy this by adding a bit of vinegar to the water in your canner before processing.)
You now have shelf stable meat that is quick and delicious to use–recipes another time . . .
Keep preparing! Angela
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Mariah Papaya says
Chris is going hunting this weekend, and I made him guarantee me a portion of his meat so I can bottle it. Wahoo!
I REALLY want to make jerky, but that will have to wait…
I’ve never tried this, but I might just have to one of these years. I have had bottled deer meat and I liked it. Sounds like a time consuming process though.
P.S. Add a little vinegar to your water in the pressure cooker or cold pack canner and it will eliminate the hard water on the jar. If you forget like I do, just put vinegar on a rag and it washes the hard water right off. A trick I learned from my mom.
It’s not difficult, but it is time consuming, and you only get 8 pints done for your hour and a half + of canning time. I’ve done a whole deer once and the canner was running constantly! And hey, that vinegar idea is great–I’ve got serious hard water lines in my hot water canner also, although if I vinegared them off I wouldn’t know how full to fill the canner anymore . . . :)
If you have a taller canner, you can carefully stack more than the 7 pints in there – ours will take 7 on the bottom row and 8 on the top row. And if we have a lot to do, we bring out a 2nd canner.
This recipe was new to me tho as we only put in about one teaspoon of water in the jar with the meat. Comes out very tender and not at all dry. Do you add the water so as to have broth? or?
About the time involved – by the time you clean the kitchen up and play a couple hands of cards at the kitchen table (watching the guages), it's done :)
thanks for posting this…i love to bottle my deer meat.
TM Frugal Gourmet says
To get rid of the hard water marks. ALWAYS add a splash of white vinegar to your canner with the water. This will also keep your vents clear of mineral deposits. I have even found that jars that had hard water marks from canning previously, eventually lost their water marks. I love my vinegars :)
Also, I have canned chicken too, if you want it to have a prettier color, cook until 3/4 done, then take off the bone and put in jars with a little salt, and the water you boiled it in.
I use processing times from the Ball Canning book .. but not all the recipes are good tasting.
Sue Mosier says
I am new to pressure canning. Thank you very much for the post. If the meat is cooked in the canner, could you just heat up the meat and eat it? What is the shelf life of canned meat? Thank you kindly.
The meat cooked in the canner is ready to eat out of the jar warmed up or not. I have canned meat I’m using that was bottled in 08–so I know 3 years stored cool and dark the meat is still good. Not sure what the official shelf life would be.
Just bought a pressure canner through your amazon store. We are looking forward to canning meat like this. Have you tried any other meats like chicken or fish?
I’ve done chicken and turkey, but not fish. Some people like to can their chicken in larger chunks so it could potentially be used as a “chicken breast” in a recipe. I usually just chunk it up like I did this meat and use it in soups or shred it and make enchiladas, etc. with it. Enjoy your new canner! :)
I have canned tuna (right off the boat) for years. We live at 5k feet elevation so our processing times are different. We also can beef, chicken, venison, salmon, and pork: cube meat, pack tightly in pint jars, 1/4 tsp salt on top of meat, then place the prepared lids on jars, place in canner and process for 90 minutes at 15lbs pressure.
I can dry pinto beans the same way, except it is one cup of beans per quart jar, 1/4tsp salt, and water to the neck line of the jar. Process times are the same. Then we use the beans for refried beans, baked beans, chili beans etc.
I love my canner.
Debby Plank says
I’m kind of confused. I see in your pressure canner you do not cover the jars with water and others say you should, what’s the correct way?
Debby– Jars need to be covered by an inch or more of water in a water bath canner (used for high acid foods like fruits, jams, and tomatoes), but not in a pressure canner (used for low acid foods like vegetables and meats). In a pressure canner, because the canner seals and traps heat in, you only need about 3-4 inches of water at the bottom of the canner to boil and create the proper heat levels in the canner.
Doris Thompson says
I can vegetables, soups, potatoes and different broths. I never thought about canning raw meat. Just never thought it would work I guess, really don’t know why I haven’t.
I am very excited about canning meats.b
Thanks for having this info out there for all us new comers!